1.Why Can’t We Build a Biosphere?
NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE
Kathy K. GallucciDepartment of BiologyElon University, Elon, NC
2.In 1991, four men and four women entered Biosphere 2, a man-made closed ecological system (CES), in Oracle, Arizona. The purpose of this “human experiment” was to see if the eight biospherians could be sustained by this miniature version of Biosphere 1, for two years with no outside support of any kind. If the project was successful, Biosphere 2 might serve as a prototype for a human habitat on Mars, or a retreat for humans on Biosphere 1 during a crisis.
The experiment failed.
Why did it fail?
3.Part I - Biosphere 2
4.Discussion Question 1What would you need to build a biosphere?
How can the biosphere be constructed?
What supporting services would you include?
How would the services be controlled?
What regulating services would you include?
What provisioning ecosystem services are needed?
How can these be sustained in a biosphere?
What cultural ecosystem services would help enrich the lives of biospherians?
5.On 3.14 acres, Biosphere 2 had:
an agricultural area
6.Discussion Question 2What kinds of organisms would you select for your biosphere?
Discussion Question 3What utilities would you need to include in the
an ocean, with a coral reef
a fog desert
a mangrove swamp
a savannah grassland
an agricultural area
living quarters with a library
8.Comparison of Biosphere 1 and 2
(Poynter TED Talk, 2009; Cohen & Tilman, 1996)
9.Part II - Ecosystem Services
(Millennium Ecosystem Assessment)
12.Discussion Question 4What ecosystem services of Biosphere 1 must be recreated in Biosphere 2?
food, water, protection, energy, medicine,
water filtration, carbon storage, flood, disease, and erosion control,
spiritual solace, recreation, education, heritage, tourism, aesthetics, inspiration
14.Part III - The Ecological Footprint
How many planets does it take to support your lifestyle?
17.Number of Earths Required to Sustain Humanity
(Wackernagel, et al., 2002)
18.Discussion Question 5How can the overreach of an individual’s ecological footprint inform us about the ecosystem services required by Biosphere 2? Why did Biosphere 2 fail?
19.“The major retrospective conclusion that can be drawn is simple. At present, there is no demonstrated alternative to maintaining the viability of Earth. No one knows how to engineer systems that provide humans with the life-supporting services that natural ecosystems produce for free.”
(Cohen, J.E. & D. Tilman, 1996)